Denial. It’s not the word anybody wants to hear at their visa interview while being unceremoniously handed back your passport with a denial notice and cast aside for the next applicant. Unfortunately in some cases it’s inevitable, but there are rules one can follow to make sure the chances of a negative decision are minimal. You want to do everything you can to ensure that you leave your interview with a spring in your step and a smile on your face, safe in the knowledge that your passport is on its way to have the visa put inside, and you are well on your way to the shopping trip in New York you’ve had planned for months!
Good preparation is vital when applying for any type of visa, but even that is sometimes not enough to ensure you are approved. You have to remember that you are asking to be allowed into another country, whether it’s for tourism, business, or just transiting through. And it’s your responsibility to prove that you will arrive, behave yourself while you’re there, and ultimately that you will leave at the end!
Now, proving all of this in one online form is not possible due to the generality of the forms’ questions, so therefore you have to provide additional documents in person at your interview along with your DS-160 confirmation page, your appointment information pack, and your MRV receipt. These documents need to show certain things – most importantly your ties to the country you actually reside in.
If you are a permanent resident in Canada and you need a visa to enter the US, i.e. your native country is not on the visa waiver lis, then you MUST prove that you have strong ties to Canada and that you will return there. The strongest proof of all is time spent in your country of residence. It is advisable that you spend a minimum of a year as a permanent resident or on a working visa before even thinking about applying for a US visa. You may know people who have applied within a year and been approved, but it’s very rare for that to happen and usually there would have to be extenuating circumstances.
Also, children under 16 are generally approved for obvious reasons.
People visiting Canada who then want to visit the US are put under as much scrutiny as residents of Canada, but their supporting documents need to show evidence of their ties to their home country. So, time in whichever country they reside is very important. The presence of family such as parents, siblings, and children are also a very important tie to the applicant’s country of residence. However, having a cousin once removed living in Canada will not cut the mustard. Sometimes even a closer relative like a sister or brother won’t be enough either. The odd relative living in Canada does not mean your ties are strong enough in the eyes of a US officer.
It can also be a problem if you have family members who are living in the US. Put yourself in the shoes of the officer conducting your interview. They assume that every person who applies for a visa intends to stay in the US illegally. It’s their job to only approve visas for people least likely to do this. If you only have a cousin in Canada but you have more immediate relatives in the US, it’s likely that the officer would assume that you plan on staying in the US with them illegally and not returning to Canada. So, relatives in your country of residence alone aren’t enough, but when coupled with your time spent there so far, then your ties become stronger.
Having a job improves your chances even further. A regular income shows that not only can you afford to travel to the US, but also that you can afford to leave. It’s a good idea to have at least 3 months’ worth of pay slips and statements from the bank to show your finances are sufficient for your trip. If you don’t have a job it’s not the end of the world. Proving that you have the funds or that your trip is being funded by somebody else or you are of retirement age can be done with bank statements and an invitation letter from the person you are visiting or being funded by.
In a lot of cases employers want their caregivers or nannies to accompany them on a trip to the US. It’s easy to assume that because you are being taken as part of your job then you will be instantly approved. This is a common misconception. If you have been a caregiver/nanny for a family and have only been in Canada for a few months then it’s likely your US visa application will be denied. If you have been in Canada for a few years as a nanny/caregiver but have only been working for your current employer for under a year, then it’s advisable that you take your previous contracts that you had with other employers with you to your interview.
Similarly with truck drivers who need a B1 visa before they can apply for their FAST card, don’t assume that just because you have a job offer that you will be approved for your visa. Again, ties and time spent in Canada are very important factors. People who need to travel to the US on business with a B1 visa still need to prove strong ties to their home country.
The following is a general list of documents that all applicants are advised to provide to ensure the best possible chance for approval of their US Visa application:
- A letter from your employer. The letter should be on company letterhead and should state the supervisor’s full name and be signed by him or her. The contents of the letter should state your full name, your position or job title, the date you commenced employment, and your current salary. If the purpose of the trip to the U.S. is in connection with your place of work, the letter should mention the trip details and also that your company (in Canada) will cover all expenses for the trip. The letter should finally state the contact details of the employer in case the Visa Officer needs to contact him or her;
- Canada Immigration Documents showing your current legal status in Canada (Original Permanent Resident Card, work or study permit, or visitor visa)
- Your ORIGINAL valid passport (valid for at least 6 months)
- Utility bills, cable bills, internet bills for the last 3 months that show your name and address
- A property deed or lease/rental agreement showing your place of residence in Canada
- An insurance policy showing that you are the policy holder OR the beneficiary (if you have insurance)
- Any original identity documents in your name (i.e. Original Driver’s Licence, Original Health Card, etc.)
- Your automobile insurance (if you drive)
- A “Statement of Account”(s) from your bank
- A credit card or debit card (showing your name)
So, if you have read everything so far and think that you have everything mentioned above, your chances of being approved for the US visa are extremely high. You will probably breeze through a very short interview and may even get a smile from the officer as he/she inquires about your plans while visiting the US.
Maybe you only have some of the documents above but fit the other criteria. If this is the case then your chances are also fairly good but you would have to be stronger in the other areas, for example, married with children.
At the end of the day it’s important to remember that the officer who interviews you has the final say. There are instances where a person may meet all the requirements but the officer feels there is something questionable about the applicant and for that reason they will deny the visa. It’s a setback but it’s not the end of the world.
It is for this reason that if you intend to book tickets for a trip you make sure that you apply for your visa in good time to cover this possibility Although you don’t really want to attend your interview fearing the worst, just make sure you are fully prepared.
Stay positive and trust yourself. You should feel confident that you’ve made sure you meet all the requirements and therefore you stand an excellent chance of being approved!
Riley Haas has been a leading expert since 2011 on immigration matters, with hundreds of publications online. Published author of three books about political philosophy, the Beatles and the Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively. BA from Bishop’s University, MA from McMaster University. You follow Riley on Substack https://rileyhaas.substack.com.